Scotland v Republic of Ireland: Here is what needs to happen for Scotland to qualify for the Women's World Cup 2023

Are you confused by the Women’s World Cup play off system? You are not the only one – it’s a complicated business.
Abi Harrison of Scotland celebrates scoring the winner against Austria last week. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)Abi Harrison of Scotland celebrates scoring the winner against Austria last week. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Abi Harrison of Scotland celebrates scoring the winner against Austria last week. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Pedro Martinez-Losa’s side face the Republic of Ireland tonight knowing a win at Hampden Park could cement their place at next year’s Women’s World Cup for only the second time in their history.

An exhilarating 1-0 extra time win over Austria last weekend at the home of Scottish football secured the team’s passage to tonight’s mouthwatering clash against the Republic of Ireland and, coupled with results elsewhere, edged Martinez-Losa’s side closer to the Holy Grail of World Cup qualification.

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However, from the minute the full time whistle blew at Hampden last week, the many permutations of what could happen following tonight’s game have boggled the minds of many supporters due to the complex nature of World Cup qualification.

So if you want to know what needs to happen for Scotland to qualify for the World Cup tonight, we’ve broken down the many permutations so you don’t have to.

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How does the Women’s World Cup play off system work?

There are many permutations as to what could happen tonight.

There were a total of nine teams that finished as runners-up in the group stages of UEFA European qualifying for the World Cup and - based on performances in qualifying - three teams classed as ‘top-seeded teams’ were handed a bye to the finals.

Those seeds were Iceland, Republic of Ireland and Switzerland, whereas the other six teams, which included Scotland, went into the one-legged semi-finals. Scotland won their semi-final against Austria 1-0.

What made that result important was that Portugal unexpectedly beat Belgium 2-1 in the other semi-final which meant they would face Iceland this evening.

In regards to Scotland, winning tonight’s play-off final does not guarantee a spot at the World Cup as only two of the three play-off winners will automatically qualify.

The remaining third team will have to play a third game in an inter-confederation play-off, which will take place in New Zealand in February 2023.

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When is the Women’s World Cup? When is the draw, what's the host country, and how to get tickets?

How are the three play off winners separated?

They are ranked by combining qualifying performances and upcoming play off results.

Play off results will be given three points for a win or one point if the win is achieved via a penalty shootout. So, how can Scotland qualify tonight?

Read on to discover all of the outcomes below.

What needs to happen for Scotland to qualify for the World Cup 2023?

First and foremost, let’s get the easy part out of the way - Scotland have to win in order to qualify. However, how they win will determine what happens next.

If Scotland win within 90 minutes, then a couple of things also need to happen in the other games to confirm Scotland’s place at the World Cup.

The other games that supporters will want to keep an eye on are Wales vs Switzerland and Portugal vs Iceland.

Why are Wales’ and Portugal’s play off results important to Scotland?

If Wales and Scotland both win their play offs in 90 minutes, then Scotland qualify.

If Portugal and Scotland win their play off games in 90 minutes, Scotland will also qualify. That is the basics of why those games matter.

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Simply put, if either of Wales or Portugal win in 90 minutes and Scotland also win in 90 minutes – we’re through!

However, if only Portugal and Scotland win their play-off, the qualification to the World Cup comes down to goal difference. With both Scotland and Portugal currently on a goal difference of +9, the team with the best goal difference will result in that country qualifying for the World Cup next year.

Both of these games kick off at 6pm, meaning Scotland should know what is required by the time they kick off this evening.

What happens if Scotland win the game in extra time?

Here’s where it gets a little more complicated...

Things change slightly if Scotland needs extra time to beat Republic Of Ireland due to the point ranking system offering less points if a game is won in extra time. A game won in extra time will give Scotland three points, similar to if they win in 90 minutes.

If Scotland win the game before the end of extra time then Scotland require a Wales or Portugal win by the same same or smaller margin in order to qualify.

What happens if Scotland win the game on penalties?

If Scotland require penalties to beat Republic Of Ireland, then only one point will be awarded as opposed to three, so a couple of things need to happen to qualify.

If Scotland win on penalties then they require a Wales win, or Portugal to win on penalties in order to qualify.

What happens if Scotland win, but Wales or Portugal don’t?

Scotland will then have to enter the intercontinental play offs in New Zealand in order to qualify, due to the fact both Switzerland (who play Wales) and Iceland (who play Portugal) will be above them in the rankings.

What happens if Scotland lose?

This is an easier one – Scotland are out of the World Cup 2023 if they lose in either 90 minutes or extra time.